We have just heard that the Government intends to introduce Tribunal fees in the latter half of 2013. It argues that fees can encourage parties to think through whether a formal claim needs to be lodged at a tribunal, or whether it can be settled informally via mediation or conciliation, etc.
Fees will be charged in two stages: firstly, when the claim is lodged and then prior to the hearing. The remission system, which currently operates in the civil courts, will be extended to the employment tribunals, meaning that people on low incomes will not have to pay. Furthermore, tribunals will be given a discretionary power to order the losing party to pay any costs of the successful party incurred by way of fees.
The proposed fee structure envisages two levels of fee:
- Level 1 claims would incur a fee of £160. These are straightforward claims for defined sums, such as unauthorised deductions from wages and redundancy payments. A further £230 would be payable at the hearing stage.
- More complex Level 2 claims would incur a fee of £250. These claims cover such issues as unfair dismissal, discrimination and equal pay. A further £950 would be payable at the hearing stage
There is also a fee structure for multiple claims. Claims with up to ten claimants would be charged twice the applicable fee for a single claim; those involving 11-200 claimants would be charged four times the single fee; and those involving over 200 claimants six times the single fee. At the Employment Appeal Tribunal, there would be an appeal fee of £400 and a hearing fee of £1200.
The Government aims to ensure that tribunals ‘are used as the option of last resort to resolve employment disputes’.